Saturday, October 22, 2016

Monsters: Fiendish Facts, Quivery Quizzes and Other Grisly Goings-on (A Golden Family Funtime Book, 1977)

This entry in the "Golden Family Funtime" series is called (take a breath...) "Monsters: Fiendish Facts, Quivery Quizzes and Other Grisly Goings-on", a collection of essays, puzzles, games and trivia revolving around all things monster. Written by Donald F. Glut (he also wrote, interestingly, the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, among other comic and horror titles for kids) and illustrated by Dennis Hockerman (cover only) and Carole Jean Bourke (interiors), "Monsters" offers a fairly comprehensive overview of the monster genre with an emphasis on their presentation in books and films, padded out with a little cryptozoology for good measure.


Categories of monster reviewed here include the literary (Frankenstein's Monster, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde)...


...traditional/folklore (Werewolves, Vampires, Mummies, Voodoo Terrors)...

Werewolf indicators. Keep the tweezers handy if you want to pass for normal.

A depiction of the burning at the stake of accused werewolf Stubbe Peter, Germany, March 31, 1590.







...and cryptozoological/extra-terrestrial "real world" monsters (Prehistoric Monsters, Monsters From Outer Space, and Abominable Beasts).


The quizzes revolve around monster movies and are actually kind of fun and require some knowledge of the genre. "Creature Color Contest" asks you to complete the movie title with the correct color name.


"Dracula's Countdown" is the same concept, but using numbers selected from a list.


Simbar the Werelion (a character from the comic book "The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor") challenges you to match the actor to the monster they portrayed.

There are a few visual puzzles as well, challenging you to find hidden animals in a drawing (The 13 Black Cats and Find the Missing Werewolves)...


...plus the party game where you stare at a picture for a period of time and then are expected to answer questions about details of the picture from memory (No Hyde-Ing Place).


Optical illusions and magic tricks are found here as well, including the severed-finger gag I remember from Spooky Tricks (presented here as Frankenstein's Finger).


There's a board game "Escape To the Castle" that takes up a two-page spread...


...and finally, Sinister Shadows demonstrates how to make Godzilla, a werewolf, vampire bat, and other monsters with your hands.


Other entries in the Golden Family Funtime Books series focused on crafts, games, magic, and riddles. Take a look at that funtime family!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Land of the Lost Illustrated Timeline at We Are The Mutants


As a life-long Land of the Lost fan, I'd been toying with the idea of putting together a timeline chronicling the arrival and exit of all the characters, and tracing the various temporal manipulations and paradoxes created by the matrix tables and pylons. Well, I finally found an "excuse" to stop toying and start timelining when the creative mind behind one of my favorite blogs 2 Warps To Neptune invited me to contribute content to his newest venture, We Are The Mutants.

I actually rewatched the series in its entirety in order to put this timeline together, and it's BIG. Too big to print. But hopefully you'll find it fun to examine and explore through the viewscreen of whatever inter-dimensional machine you use to view The Internet. I also wrote a rather longish piece on the series itself that delves into some of the shows headier concepts and plotlines (masochists can read it here).

You'd do well to bookmark We Are The Mutants, too, especially if you are a fan of Gen-X era sci-fi, fantasy, toys and tech.

Monday, July 18, 2016

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, Hortense Roberta Roberts)

If you have an irresistible urge to hoard insects in your home, and that pencil box full of dead flies just isn't cutting it any longer, then get ready to graduate to the big leagues. Because YOU can make an insect zoo!

Calling your creepy collection of bugs housed in makeshift cardboard boxes and discarded plastic ware a "zoo" will lend your insect fetish a whiff of legitimacy. And I won't even mention the potential income in tickets sold and yearly Friends-Of-The-Insect-Zoo membership dues.


I've always had a love/hate relationship with the insect world. I find bugs fascinating when safely observed on film or through the protective glass of a sealed container. Scurrying into my bed or landing in my jelly sandwich? Not so much.

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, by Hortense Roberta Roberts, photos by Francis Munger) provides instructions for several types of bug enclosures for the junior entomologist to show off his menagerie of crickets, ants, moths and butterflies (sorry adventure-seekers, giant hissing cockroaches aren't welcome at this zoo!)

The Plastic Drinking Glass Case, intended for butterflies and moths, is described as the "easiest cage to make", and they aren't kidding. It's literally a plastic cup set upside down on a paper napkin. I accidentally make this cage all the time after a few cocktails.

The Cardboard Box Cage is a little more complicated with its screen windows and clear plastic roof.

The Milk Carton Cage requires pulling a nylon stocking (ask Mom's permission!) over a cut-out milk carton. With visibility on all four sides of the enclosure, it's sure to be a popular exhibit with zoo guests.

The Wire Screen Cage looks more like a proper insect cage you might buy at the store. It's a roll of screen sandwiched between the cut-out bottoms of two plastic bottles.

The book suggests using old bleach bottles. No doubt both the insects and your customers will appreciate that fresh bleach scent.

No, the Cricket Cage is not the name of a secret room behind a false wall and soundproof door in my cellar. Rather, it's an elaborate complex to house crickets that includes sleeping nooks, feeding pods, and a place to lay eggs.

It also works as Barbie's Bug Infested Studio Apartment.

The crickets from my yard don't look like the creepy ones pictured here--thank God. If I had a box full of these in my "zoo", I'd want to keep a can of Raid nearby in case I needed to, uh, close the exhibit early for a special event.

If the "zoo" concept doesn't take off, I'm thinking we rebrand as Cricket X-Treme Sports Arena.

Finally we have this Tunnel Cage, which lets you observe the tunneling action of an ant colony sandwiched between two transparent cups. I wonder what percent of ants end up accidentally glued to the cardboard base? Is there a target living-ants to glued-ants ratio with these exhibit openings?

Here's what the unglued ants look like.

You Can Make an Insect Zoo is a book I checked out once or twice from my grade school library, but I never actually built any of the cages and my "insect zoo" never happened.

Lucky bugs.